The All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bola Tinubu, says though Nigeria has exited recession, the country’s economy remains weak.
Tinubu stated this in Kaduna on Saturday while delivering a speech as the chairman of the 2021 Sardauna Memorial Lecture held in honour of one of Nigeria’s founding fathers, the late Sir, Ahmadu Bello.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the National Bureau of Statistics last month said that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product recorded a slight growth of 0.11 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, indicating the country’s exit from recession.
Speaking on Saturday on the topic, ‘Reduction of the Cost of Governance for Inclusive Growth and Youth Development in Northern Nigeria in a Post-COVID-19 Era’, the former governor of Lagos State said though the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), put buffers in place during the recession, the country’s economy still remained weak with “too much unemployment”.
“In the midst of our local challenges came the COVID-19 pandemic, with its debilitating impact on the global and domestic economies. Nigeria, like many other countries, has not been spared the impact of the pandemic.
“Commendably, however, President Muhammadu Buhari has been carefully steering the country through the pandemic such that the negative impact on us and the economy has not been as harsh as it might have been. The economy’s relapse into recession has ended but we must admit the economy remains weak with too much unemployment and resources left idle.”
The APC stalwart also warned against wasteful spending amongst government officials, saying the government must spend money to yield economic returns for the benefit of the masses.
“Fiscal wisdom but not necessarily austerity is required for an economy like ours in a time like this, to ensure equitable wealth redistribution and meaningful use of resources.
“The years have shown that the private sector is much too weak to spur the growth we need. If the private sector could manage this feat, it would have already done so. Where the private sector is too weak or unable, the government must fill the void.
“This means government must not be afraid to embark on an active fiscal policy to create jobs, build infrastructure and develop our industrial sector as well as continue to improve agriculture. This means government must spend money but spend it on those things that bring the requisite economic returns for the nation.”
The ex-Lagos governor also said job creation remained key to end restiveness and criminality amongst Nigeria’s young population.
“While states and local government must shape their budgets to fit their revenues, the federal government can and should spend more to create more jobs for the youth in both the north and south which is key to eradicating restiveness and sundry criminality among the youth,” Tinubu opined, adding, “Urban populations are growing but urban jobs are not. Here, government must implement a national industrial policy to encourage key industries to begin to employ this growing urban work force.”